50 Years of Occupation: A disaster foretold

This year will mark 50 years since the Six-day war, which began with an Israeli surprise attack on Egyptian and Jordanian forces. When it ended on June 11, 1967, Israeli military forces had occupied the entire West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. Israel still controls the lives of millions of Palestinians living in these areas under its military occupation. Two generations have been born and come of age without a voice in the state that controls their movements and surveils their every activity.

The Washington Post is doing a three part series that looks at the daily lives of Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation. The first installment looks at the life of a Palestinian construction worker, who endures a 3-4 hour commute each day, complete with daily humiliation at an Israeli checkpoint. Taweel is 30 years old and has lived his entire life under occupation:

Like Taweel, four of every five Palestinians have never known anything but the occupation — an evolving system by which the Israeli military and intelligence services exert control over 2.6 million Arabs in the West Bank, with one system for Palestinians, another for Israelis. […]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refers to it, when he speaks of it at all, as “the so-called occupation.” Some of his fellow citizens say there is really no occupation, because all the Land of Israel was awarded to the Jews by God. Other Israelis argue that Gaza is no longer occupied, because Israel unilaterally withdrew from the coastal strip a decade ago.

Whatever it is called, it appears to be never-ending.  — WaPo

Meanwhile despite the “non occupation” of Gaza, Israel controls it’s electricity (as it does everything else gong in or out of Gaza. Gazans receive about four hours of electricity each day, but even that is being cut by Israeli authorities. The enforced impoverishment of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, has forced many Palestinians who can, to leave. Those who stay must contend with the daily indignities of a military occupation that has run for half a century.

As Trump toured Israel, hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners marked the 6th week of their hunger strike:

Trump arrives on the 36th day of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners. The prisoners’ physical condition is starting to deteriorate, and the Israel Prison Service is reportedly starting to transfer dozens of prisoners to hospitals around the country.

At this stage, according to the Israel Medical Association, the hunger strikers are beginning to suffer from dizziness, weakness, tremors, unsteadiness on their feet, difficulty standing, arrhythmias, chills and more. As from the fifth week of a hunger strike, an individual is likely to show signs of vertigo, uncontrolled vomiting, and difficulty moving their eyes, which may also twitch.

The Palestinian hunger strikers are suffering through these symptoms in order to try and improve basic conditions in prison, including access to public telephones (which all other prisoners have), family visits, adequate and humane health services, improvement in conditions of transport between prisons, air conditioning, an end to administrative detention, and more. — +972mag

In Jerusalem, right-wing Israelis paraded through the streets in their “March of Flags”, an annual celebration of the conquest and occupation of East Jerusalem. This year, as in prior years, there were counter-protests by left-leaning activists which were violently suppressed by Israeli police who arrested journalists as well.

Peaceful, non-violent protests against the occupation happen every day in Israel and Palestine. There is rarely any reporting on it. For example, 300 Palestinians, Israelis and diaspora Jewish activists opposed to the occupation built a protest camp in the former village of Surara. Palestinians living there were expelled in the 1990s.

The event was organized by a coalition of groups, including the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, local Palestinian committees, Youth Against Settlements, the All That’s Left Collective, the Holy Land Trust and Combatants for Peace. Members of IfNotNow also participated in the action. Activists arrived in the morning and continued working through to the afternoon, when several people — including Youth Against Settlements’ Issa Amro — spoke about the purpose and impact of the event.

In a press release, the organizers said that the “Sumud Freedom Camp” would remain in place for a week, during which workshops on nonviolent resistance will be held. The organizers also called on activists “around the world to hold meetings, demonstrations, solidarity actions, discussion groups and prayer groups aimed at ending Israel’s military occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.” — +972mag

As a coda, Noam Sheizaf writing in Haaretz highlights a paid ad published on September 22, 1967 in right-leaning Israeli newspapers shortly after the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza were first occupied. It was signed by dozens of Israeli public intellectuals and expressed a triumphant view that has driven Israeli policies since:

The Land of Israel is now in the hands of the Jewish people, and just as we are not permitted to forgo the State of Israel, so too we are enjoined to sustain what we have received from it: the Land of Israel. We are hereby committed faithfully to the wholeness of our land, in regard to the Jewish people’s past and to its future alike, and no government in Israel shall ever forgo this wholeness.

Noam points out that the authors of this letter went on to enjoy great success in renown. Coincidentally, a different paid ad ran in Haaretz the very same day. In 52 words it neatly foretold the current situation. It was written by two members of the far-left Matzpen organization, Haim Hanegbi and Shimon Tzabar:

“Our right to defend ourselves against annihilation does not grant us the right to oppress others,” the ad stated. “Conquest brings in its wake foreign rule. Foreign rule brings in its wake resistance. Resistance brings in its wake oppression. Oppression brings in its wake terrorism and counterterrorism. The victims of terrorism are usually innocent people. Holding onto the territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims.” And in large font at the end: “Let us leave the occupied territories now.”

The names of the 12 signatories of the ad meant absolutely nothing to the Israeli public. Historian Nitza Erel, who discusses the two ads in her 2010 book “Matzpen: Conscience and Fantasy” (Hebrew), notes that even the famed public intellectual Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who was to become known for his anti-occupation stance, declined to sign the petition.
Haaretz